Like Freddie Mercury, I have a few.
I bet they are different things.
I’m differentiating among things that made me sad, things that I am ashamed of, and regrets.
It’s sad that I was in a car accident as a child that causes me pain 40 odd years later. But that’s not a regret.
I am ashamed that in 6th grade I didn’t speak up for the kid being picked on. I told myself that I wasn’t participating and that was enough, but I knew even then it wasn’t. But that is shame, not regret.
Regrets are things that I wish I had done, but more than small incidents—things that I think would have changed me.
I regret not wearing a thong in public when I had the body to rock it.
I regret not sleeping around more.
I regret—no, I don’t, I’ll get back to that—not getting my motorcycle license as a teenager.
Now that menopause has given me 25 pounds over my college weight—and I looked like a Shetland pony even then—I regret not being healthily proud of it.
Thong bikinis were not invented until I was out of college, but I still had a muscular body in my 30s and now that no one would want to see it I wish more had.
It’s probably not the case that everybody should sleep around, but it would have been a good thing for me. Philosophically, I always believed that sex between any consenting adults was fine, in or out of a relationship. In practice I only had sex with people I was in love with, and sometimes not even then. This is probably not the result of my Catholic school upbringing but of watching far too many operas.
The result, for me, was that when I finally did bed someone I was as bound as if I had gotten married. I tolerated a lot of nonsense from people because I had this idea that once you shared your body you were bound to that person.
The single most freeing thing I ever did was when I went to bed with a man I did not love. The sex was amazing, and since then I have had a much more independent sense of self.
For my painfully introverted brother, it would be different. What’s right for me probably is not right for him when it comes to privacy and sex.
But back to the motorcycle license. In the 80s, when I was a teenager, few women rode. The only way to get a license was to have someone teach you, and “someone” was generally a guy. The currency attached to that meant that if I wanted a motorcycle license I had to sleep with someone who had one.
I chose not to do that.
So while I ache for the years of freedom on a bike I will never have, I don’t regret not getting my license. The cost was too high. It’s sad for me but it is not a regret.
I used to wish I had worked harder on my music when I was in college, but as an adult I realize that was not reasonable. The really good musicians usually had more resources than I had, had lessons earlier in their childhood, had more money to devote to good instruments or to more instruction, didn’t have to work their way through college.
I see this with my daughter, now. I am fortunate to be able to give her a less stressful life than mine. She can practice her music without having to feed the pigs first, and she can be reasonably certain she will have suitable clothes for school without paying for them herself. (This is not to say she is lazy. She is privileged, yes, but she works hard at her music, at school at appropriate things for a young child to be doing.)
I don’t regret not working harder on music knowing that in my case, with the limited hours in the day, I would have had nothing else in my life. I made friends in college that I still cherish now, and I would not have had that had I made a bigger commitment to music. It’s not a regret when the choice I made was the better, under the circumstances.
Well, now there are community college classes for motorcycle licenses, and I used a check from some free lance work to pay for the class. I have on the table next to the computer my first ever pair of motorcycle gloves, and I put them on for a few minutes every day, I am that happy to finally need them.
I think that if I didn’t take this opportunity, I would regret it.